THEN I UNDERSTOOD WORDPRESS AND WHAT’S HAPPENING – Marilyn Armstrong

I reread the letter from this engineer and I realized suddenly, with a certain horror, what it means to me, to you, to all of us who have been here for a while and built sites.

WordPress decided to change their algorithm so that “new, fresh material” will get pushed up to the top of the search engine and everything else — like me and you, for example — will go to the bottom. Instead of promoting blogs with solid statistics and followers, they are pushing the latest thing, whoever has just opened a new blog and … well … as someone already said: “Who made this decision? What do they mean by ‘relevant’?”

Some engineer. Maybe a developer. Someone — 25-years old?

Here’s the core of the letter I got. You might want to read it twice because he is talking about all of us. Please note that the reason nothing is missing from my site (except about 6000 posts) is because I went and changed the title. They didn’t fix anything at all. They just buried me with their exciting new algorithm.


Nagesh Pai (Automattic)

Apr 27, 07:53 UTC

Hello Marilyn,

Thanks for your reply. Once again, I truly appreciate your time and effort in writing to us.

I would certainly and sincerely like to apologize for anything that has caused an unpleasant experience to you – whether it is any technology glitch, or my conduct.

Like I mentioned earlier, any technology platform will have its glitches. I hope we have resolved issues whenever you faced them in the past. We are always on the lookout for any faults that may crop up. Unfortunately there are a few that do sneak past.

I would like to focus on anything that is pending to resolve from our side right now.

There is nothing deleted from your site at all! (NOTE: THIS IS BECAUSE I CHANGED MY SITE ADDRESS – BEFORE THAT, THERE WAS NOTHING AT ALL, NOT THE SITE NAME, MY NAME OR ANYONE FROM THE SITE.) The appearance of your articles on WordPress Reader search by relevance is determined by what i explained earlier as “competition”. It would not be fair to use harsh terms like – Fault, here. If there are other articles that rank higher on relevance, it is likely the search algorithm finds it to be more relevant. Rankings keep changing with competition between newly published articles and older ones. The search engine will always try to deliver what the reader would find fresh and relevant, not what the content publishers would like to push. This is a little difficult to grab, since as content creators, we would always like to believe that our posts are the best ( just like we think about people and things we love with all our heart).


In other words: whatever buzz words the algorithm thinks might means “fresh and new” to someone (who?) gets to the top of the pile. “Old blogs” — mine, yours, our friends — are obviously boring and don’t need to even be IN the pile, much less on top of it.

Who decided what’s relevant? It’s not based on our statistics or our standing in “the community.” Not based on the number of our followers or readers. Someone said “that’s relevant” and “that’s NOT relevant.” Because they said so and we just have to live with it.

I don’t know if I want to live with it.

Effectively, what we suspected all along is true. If you have been with them for years, you aren’t fresh and new and why bother with you? So this isn’t an accident. They haven’t made a  mistake. They literally decided we aren’t important enough to bother with.

This is probably why if you take a periodic break from blogging, you get more readers because now you are fresher and newer than you were two weeks ago.

The final astonishing thing about this is what they are aiming for — a fresh, young audience — doesn’t exist. Kids don’t read blogs. They are on Instagram and other social media. Blog readers tend to be older and they are readers. Book readers. Newspaper readers. Writers. Photographers. They aren’t kids looking for fresh, young material … and they are not going to be paying their way on WordPress, either.

As a business model, WordPress is setting itself up to appeal to a non-existent market. All those young, fresh bloggers … you know … the ones who write three posts, realize it’s too much like work and abandon their sites? Those kids aren’t readers. That’s why they love Instagram and other short focus sites.

So, if someone specifically is looking for us, they can find us. But if they are looking to discover things to follow? We’ve not relevant and won’t show up. Ponder that. It’s a big lump to swallow.

I’m going to read a book. Something with magic.

64 thoughts on “THEN I UNDERSTOOD WORDPRESS AND WHAT’S HAPPENING – Marilyn Armstrong”

      1. Even for whatever reasons, your blog was placed at the bottom of the totem, Why would it be inaccessible. Those of us who follow don’t care where it is, but just THAT it’s there, and can be gotten to. I feel they (WordPress) have no right to make that judgment. Your record precedes you and if we wanted to abandon you in favor of some other supposedly “More Interesting” blog we’d have done it a long time ago.., but we’re all here baby!

        Anyway, who would I bicker with online better than one of my bestus friends?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It’s search engine placement. They people who follow me still follow me, but it means no one new will easily find me. Except this algorithm isn’t going to work out for them. They are looking for an audience that does not exist.

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          1. It looks like most of your community is still there. While it’s nice to have new subscribers, this might be a blessing in disguise allowing you to spend more time them until things get worked out.

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            1. Well, that’s the way it will be, regardless. I’m not going to pay them twice the money I pay them now so they can ‘push’ my site. It’s NOT a business and I won’t invest in it as a business. But they have made it clear where they stand. I think if they keep pursuing this, they’ll put themselves out of business and then no one will have anywhere to write.

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      2. I know this has really gotten to you. In some ways, it reminds me of fighting with consultants in TV News. They always wanted to “jazz it up” but didn’t know what they were doing. They always said they knew what the viewers wanted. They DIDN”T. They were clueless.

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  1. You are so right on with your assessment, Marilyn. Blogging is not primarily for the young (although I see a few) who are here writing prose etc. For the most part, though, this is a place for WRITER and people seriously interested in learning, in life, in growing, in knowing and seeking truth amid the “fake” crap out there that too many swallow. I’m still FURIOUS!

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    1. For at least the past 4 years, WP has been trying to be that hip, cool place for Youth to blog. Except Youth doesn’t blog. The youngest bloggers tend to be young writers trying out the products with an audience. The young hip kids might give blogging a try, but they don’t stay with it. Why not? Because they are kids. I’m sure WP has a bunch of PR people who have convinced them that this audience of young, hip bloggers is just waiting to be caught. They aren’t there. This is an audience they will not catch because they don’t exist.

      If what they really want is that we should pay them more money to do what they used to do for free? They have the wrong people. If I were a business, I’d have a business site. Hey, wait, I DID have a business site when i was in business and I paid for it, too. Because it was part of the price of doing business.

      I don’t make money on this site and I never intended it as a money making thing. Nor were we lured in as business people. Now, I think, they are looking at ways to make more money and we don’t look like we’re doing that for them … but we are simply by bringing in people who read and sometimes buy things. Probably they aren’t doing as well as FB and Twitter and Instagram — but they aren’t the same kind of media and I think they are way too late in the game to become something else.

      So I’m going to do what I do and write what I want to write. If they make my life too difficult, I’ll quit. Because this ISN’T a job. It’s a hobby.

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  2. Millenials don’t blog because they have the attention span of goldfish. They want everything in bite size pieces with lots of noise, colour and effects, substance is too much work to digest.

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  3. After reading this message several times today, I still DON’T think he means old BLOGS but, rather, older POSTS. I also don’t think the algorithm gives primacy to “new bloggers” but to newer posts. After all it was your older posts that had vanished.

    I think it’s about money (they have a new blogging category that has LOTS of options for SEO that can be added). It’s $80/year.

    As for whether younger people blog or not — they do. My recent “WTF? I’m in a contest?” experience has shown me how there are many people younger than me writing blogs. I don’t see much difference in the posts of the younger bloggers than I see in the blog posts of people like you who use photos. That WP has worked to configure the site so it’s easy to use on a phone is not a bad thing. It means more people can and will read and post.

    You might hate me after I say this, but… We’re OLD. That doesn’t mean we’re passé. It DOES mean we have to be careful where we allocate our time, attention and emotion.

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    1. Actually, ALL my posts disappeared. Every single one of them from every writer. All 7500 of them. Except the reblogs on other people sites showed up, but none on my site and nothing connected to my name. Sue Vincent is seeing the same thing and a few people can’t find their blogs at all.

      When this started, not a single post showed up as ever having appeared on WordPress. My name only showed up when it was a reblog and my name was part of the title. WHEN I changed the name of the site, about 24 hours later most things from between February and early April showed up … but nothing from the past two weeks at all. The most recent posts were completely gone.

      They are intermittently back now, but who knows for how long? If you just type “serendipity” — I won’t appear at all. My name may or may not bring up results. Sometimes it does, other times not.

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      1. OK, well. I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry this happened to you. I consistently saw your posts and all the others from your other writers. BUT no, when I search “Serendipity” on WP I don’t find you. If I search “Serendipity – Seeking Inteligent Life on Earth” I find you. A LOT of you. Nothing BUT you. If I search “Marilyn Armstrong” I find three reblogs and then you.

        If I search my name, I find me with the highest rated newer posts on top. If I search my blog title, I first get reblogs because my blog is a subject in someone else’s blog. That makes total sense to me as the algorithm is looking for key words.

        Perhaps “serendipity” is just a word used by a lot of people in blog posts. I’m totally confident you will sort it out.

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          1. There’s no collusion.

            OH! Allen Ginsberg,

            “America its them bad Russians.
            Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
            The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages…”

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  4. What you say is very easy to believe. Social engineering is here with us. I believe this explains the unrest in our nation and in countries around the world. All I can say is that the peace I have I share with you. Keep persevering in your posts and I will do the same.

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  5. I wonder if this is why all of a sudden I have had an onslaught of ‘followers’ from…..’something weird@outlook .com’ Am I at the bottom because I don’t write–I just post photos? That is one helluva an explanation letter they wrote you, Marilyn. I still cannot make sense of it. But your posts come through to my email each and every day, thankfully.

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    1. Supposedly they solved the “outlook spam” issue. i got thousands of “outlook” followers too and I solved the problem by going into my followers — all 14000 of them — and deleting them all. WordPress engineers kept telling me they would fix the problem and they knew about it, but they never fixed it. Eventually, I fixed it. I fix most things because they rarely fix anything. Big promises, very small returns.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. It really IS a known bug. Something about the “outlook” email thing made it a natural home for spammers. At one point, I literally had hundreds of them, all claiming to be either window installers (window installers?) or hotels in various African cities. They started slipping past Automattic and sliding into my “regular” comments. That’s when I went in and sliced them out. Maybe they would have gotten rid of them eventually, but I didn’t like how many of them were showing up as real comments.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. “Attack of the Millenials,” now playing in wide release nationwide. It seems they always have to learn one step forward and two steps back is not progress. I noticed the Reblog button is gone again. As you know I use it often to send things to Sunday Night Blog. It’s back to “Press This” until it returns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was gone, too, but it isn’t. It’s ONLY available though if the post is open and you aren’t scrolling down the whole blog. It is shifty, however, and sometimes disappears. NOT available through Reader, though, at all.

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  7. Well shit. That’s highly discouraging. I’m reading David Baldacci’s Decker series. Maybe I should just do that. How sad that a wonderful blog (yours) is dismissed in favor of fluff. 😦

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  8. I am pretty new on wordpress. Things change at a certain moment. Good or bad, who will say.
    But the suggestion to go to the forest and experience some good old magic, I think everyone will agree we do need that. Best wishes,

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  9. Glad I learned about the outlook spam thing here. Thanx. Reading this post actually reminded me of a Twilight Zone story-The one where the man is told he is “obsolete”. I think it was with Burgess Meredith. The Obsolete Man.

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    1. Burgess Meredith also did the one about the guy who survives the nuclear blast and then breaks his eyeglasses. That one — as an eyeglass wearer — really stuck. Yes, the outlook bug is real and they do know how to fix it. Tell them. It’s a LOT easier than fixing it yourself.

      I think our whole generation is becoming officially obsolete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OMG. I could not believe someone actually wrote a script like that nuclear blast script where he breaks his glasses. I thought that was the coldest thing someone could ever think up. Of course I love that episode.

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        1. That was a pretty cold “Twilight Zone” episode, I believe? Fortunately these days we have hard plastic lenses that don’t break too easily. Never the less that story did give me the creeps.., especially since his whole life revolved around books and reading and, I think, he was supposed to be the last man on earth alive?

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Okay, this sucks. I’m fairly computer literate for my age group, but I can’t program or do some of the repair work you are able to handle. Yes, I think we are dinosaurs and have been determined to be obsolete, irrelevant, and definitely not the marketable age group. Damn sad when the blogging community basically gets told to smile and kiss off.

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    1. The thing about it is that this IS a blogging platform. It’s not like they have some other function, so if WE get bumped, there’s no one waiting to fill the space. There really isn’t a big group of youngsters waiting to take our places. The young aren’t into blogging. It’s the middle-aged and older.

      Have you checked to see where you stand? Because you look — since the reboot they did yesterday — you look like you’re coming up fine. They rebooted the whole system yesterday.

      Like

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